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Apple butter is a delicious topping for toast, ice cream, and more. Use your favorite fall spices for a cozy, warming spread that’s ideal for gift-giving.
For me, fall is synonymous with apple picking. My family loves going every year, which means we always end up with lots and lots of apples.
I always make a batch of apple butter, too, so we can get our apple fix for months to come.
Apple butter is basically just applesauce that has been cooked for longer. It’s usually simmered with classic warming spices like cinnamon for the best fall flavor.
Unlike jams or jellies, it uses less sugar and doesn’t need added pectin, so it’s a really easy preserving project!
Once you try homemade apple butter, you’ll be making it year after year.
Ingredients for apple butter
Apples – You can use any apples to make apple butter. Our family’s favorite apple is Pink Lady, but we also like Jonathan and Gala.
I recommend using a mix of a few different kinds to get a balanced flavor.
Your apples don’t need to be perfect for apple butter, so if you can get apple “seconds” those will work great and save you some money!
Make sure to cut out any brown spots before using.
Water – Water is added to stovetop apple butter to help the apples cook faster. If using a slow cooker, you can omit it.
Granulated sugar – The amount of sugar used depends a little on your personal preference and the overall sweetness of your apples. You can use more or less if you like, but remember you can’t remove the sugar once added!
You can also swap half of the granulated sugar for brown sugar if you like.
Spices – I use a mix of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves, evoking the flavor of a classic spiced apple cider.
How to make this recipe
Core and peel the apples. Cut into slices or chunks. An all-in-one apple corer will make quick work of this task.
I usually cut my apples into 16ths. Keep in mind the smaller you cut them, the faster the apples will cook down.
Add the apples to a large pot along with the water. Bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir every so often to help the apples soften evenly.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir well.
Continue to boil gently for 25 minutes, until apples are broken down.
Using an immersion blender, puree the apples until completely smooth.
Now, how much you puree is a matter of preference. Some like their apple butter completely smooth, while others like a few bits of apple.
You can put the apple butter into containers at this point, but I like to simmer it for a little longer just to thicken the juices more.
To cook for longer, reduce heat slightly and stir every so often. Once the apple butter is pureed, it can spatter while cooking, so consider setting a lid askew to prevent a mess or burns.
The longer you cook the apple butter, the darker and thicker it will get. It should coat the back of a spoon and not immediately drip off.
When it’s your desired consistency, remove from heat.
Use a ladle to fill jars (a canning funnel helps prevent a mess), leaving room at the top. Add lids, and let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
If water bath canning, scroll down for instructions.
How to make apple butter in a slow cooker
If you prefer to be more hands-off in making apple butter, you can use a slow cooker.
Add all of the ingredients, omitting the water, to the slow cooker.
Stir to coat the apples in the sugar and spices.
Cook on LOW for 8 hours, until apples are soft and broken down.
How to can apple butter
To process be able to store apple butter in the pantry, it needs to be processed in a canner.
Fill a canning pot (or large stockpot) with enough water to cover jars by 1 inch.
Set to boil while you cook the apple butter. It can take a long time for a large pot of water to boil, and you want it ready to go when the apple butter is done.
Set aside jars, lids, and rings. You do not need to simmer the lids in a pot of water anymore; the glue will be warm enough from the canning process.
When the apple butter is ready, use tongs to quickly dip the jars in the boiling water just to warm through.
Fill the jars, leaving ¼ inch of space at the top of the jar.
Use a chopstick or kitchen dowel to gently remove any air bubbles. Wipe off any apple butter that dripped onto the tops or sides of the jars with a wet paper towel.
Place on lids and screw rings on fingertip tight. This is just tight enough so the rings are not moving, but can be easily screwed off.
Use a jar lifter to carefully lower the jars into the boiling water.
Place the lid on the canner. Process 8-ounce jars for 10 minutes. Pint jars need 15 minutes.
When the time is up, turn off the heat and wait 5 minutes. Then, use the jar lifter to remove the jars and place on a towel-lined countertop.
Let the jars rest for 24 hours. Check for seals, label, and store.
Any unsealed jars need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Opened or unprocessed jars of apple butter will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 month.
Jars that have been processed and sealed in a canner will keep for up to 18 months when stored in a cool, dry place.
Make sure to store processed jars with the rings removed. This will help you determine if any seal has broken during storage.
Can I freeze apple butter?
Apple butter freezes beautifully, and is the perfect solution for those who don’t want to use a canning pot.
Fill your jars, leaving an inch of space at the top to allow for expansion in the freezer. If you don’t want to put glass jars in the freezer, I recommend reusable deli containers.
Let cool completely before putting in the freezer. I let the jars come to room temperature, then chill in the fridge a bit before transferring to the freezer.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
What spices can I use for apple butter?
You can use any of your favorite fall spices in apple butter.
This recipe uses cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, but some other good options include cardamom, allspice, and ginger.
You can also add a bit of vanilla extract or ground vanilla for a warm floral flavor.
Do I need to add lemon juice or cider vinegar to apple butter for canning?
While some recipes might call for these ingredients, they are not necessary for safe water bath canning.
Apples have a pH of about 3.5, which means they are acidic enough on their own to can.
Ways to use apple butter
It’s a great ingredient for drinks too, like this apple cider bourbon cocktail.
You’ll find lots of uses for this apple butter — it’s great for gift-giving too!
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below! It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.
- 5 pounds apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- In a large pot, combine apples and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir well to coat apples. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again to medium low and simmer 25 minutes. Stir every so often to mix and break down apples.
- Puree apples with an immersion blender to desired consistency. If desired, simmer another 20-30 minutes to thicken further.
- Ladle into jars or airtight containers. Place lids on loosely and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.
Water Bath Canning
- To can, heat a large pot with water to boil. Fill jars with butter, place lids on, screw rings on gently, and process for 10 minutes for 8-ounce jars and 15 minutes for pint jars. Let stand in water 5 minutes with heat off. Remove jars carefully and set on counter. You should hear the jars “ping” as the seal is set. If any jars don’t seal, put them in the fridge to use right away. When the jars are cool, tighten the rings, label jars, and store in the cupboard.
- Makes about 8 cups (4 pints).
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.
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